The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there were about 700 deaths involving infants 12 months and younger between 1992 and 2010 related to pillows or cushions placed in a baby’s sleep environment. Almost half of infant crib deaths reported to CPSC every year are suffocations caused by quilts, pillows and/or overcrowding of the baby’s sleep area. There are roughly 32 infant deaths per year on pillows used to prop babies’ heads. The fact is that pillows and blankets can cause a baby to suffocate in their sleep and should not be in or around an infant’s sleeping space.
Since the use of flame retardant chemicals in mattresses and crib beds after 1948, the American SIDS death rate increased from being very uncommon to about 10,000 per year. Although many baby products have been exempted from fire safety regulations that prompted companies to add chemical retardants, some manufacturers still use them. It’s important to find out the ingredients of the material in mattresses before you buy.
An infant’s crib should be prepared with the bare minimum. No pillows, blankets, quilts, or toys. Babies can and do get their faces stuck in thick blankets and pillows and will suffocate. Children can safely start using pillows when they are 1 ½ years old; about the same age when parents move children out of the crib and into a toddler bed.
- Use a tight-fitting, firm mattress in a crib that exceeds current mandatory safety standards.
- Make sure all plastic wrapping is removed from the mattress.
- Consider putting baby in full fleece sleeper to keep warm during winter instead of using blankets.
- Children under age one should not sleep on plush materials like a waterbed or beanbag.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that bumper pads should not be used in cribs. There is no evidence that they support against injury, but they do carry a risk of strangulation, suffocation and entrapment. Additionally, stuffed animals and other toys should not be kept in a crib with an infant as this could lead to choking.
Flame retardants are regulated in the United States primarily by the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, which does not require studies of toxicity or long-term health effects for most industrial compounds before they are marketed. According to the Environmental Working group, scientists have found that exposure to toxic fire retardant chemicals at critical points in development can damage the reproductive system and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and behavior.
When purchasing a crib mattress, polyurethane foam should be avoided as it is usually treated with toxic flame retardants. Instead, look for:
- Wool, cotton, or natural latex mattresses.
- Certified Organic material which requires it to be processed without chemicals, pesticides, or harmful toxins.
- Mattress pads made from wool, cotton or polyester. Wool pads are also naturally water –resistant.
The importance of child safety bedding is serious. Pillows, blankets and toys can cause a baby to choke or suffocate. A crib mattress that is not tight-fitted could allow an infant to become caught in the space between the mattress and the crib. Chemicals used in flame retardant mattress material are a less known cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Improper and unsafe bedding can greatly affect a child’s safety and well-being.